When we decided to write a book on African American discipline many years ago, we were struggling with where to start. There are so many controversies about what are the “right” and “wrong” discipline strategies. We stopped and started, over and over again, because we weren't sure who the audience should be or how we should package the knowledge we'd gained over two decades.
We wondered about the controversies over different discipline strategies across cultural groups that social workers, psychologists, teachers, and families discussed. All three of us had worked intensively as counselors, researchers, and teachers with families and parents from a variety of racial backgrounds and had confronted the issue of whether it is appropriate to spank children. But because professionals and researchers often took an “either-or,” right or wrong position, the task seemed burdensome. We often struggled with White colleagues who were sensitive to the dilemmas of parenting in general but very fearful of addressing the racial and cultural dynamics. In our opinion the day-to-day life dilemmas, racism pressures, and compromises that parents go through were missing from these controversies.
We were worried about how the academic community would receive a book that focused solely on African American discipline. We were worried that some might not consider it useful to talk so specifically about discipline without evidence for each and every statement of advice. We were also worried that writing such a book might